I still remember reading the scathing paragraph posted at the bottom of a blog post I’d written. Honestly, it was one of the most cutting, below-the-belt, negative things I had ever read. Here’s the kicker: the comment was written by a friend of mine. A good friend.
At first, I was so mad I couldn’t see straight.
“What am I supposed to do now?”
“How do I handle this?
“We can’t stay friends now!”
A month later the friend-turned-attacker called and asked if I wanted to grab coffee. I expected them to ask forgiveness for flying off the handle and writing such scathing words about me. But it was never mentioned. It was as if nothing ever happened. My anger shifted to confusion.
When the Hits Keep Coming
A few months later there was another hurtful comment on another blog post by the same friend. Then it happened a third time.
I was really at the end of my rope and had no idea what to do.
Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you thought was on your side? Maybe they turned on you when the “cool kids” came around. Or perhaps a “friend” said something about you when your back was turned, and you heard about it through the grapevine.
Welcome to the club! I’m not sure how you felt when that happened, but let me tell you, I felt:
Mostly, I wanted to get my attacker back. “What did I do to deserve this?” was one question that ran through my mind. Then I thought of deleting them out of my phone forever and ever, amen. But none of these responses really dealt with the root issue of my bad attitude. (Silver lining: I learned my lesson, and now I try not to read anything posted about me online. Plus, it taught me to grow a little thicker skin).
How should we respond when someone that we think of as a friend stabs us in the back? Here are five practices I found helpful.
1. Take ten deep breaths and walk away from your screen.
It’s all too easy to type out a hasty text or email when we’re angry. But don’t do it! Proverbs 22:3 reminds us that “the prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
In other words, don’t be hasty. Wait before responding (if you respond at all).
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus told his disciples to “watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation.” Prayer is a powerful weapon. Take advantage of it! Specifically, pray for the one who’s hurt you, and pray that you would be able to forgive them.
3. Realize that you aren’t responsible.
If a friend is angry at you because you’re doing something they don’t like, realize that you are here to please and live for one person—Jesus. Listen again to 1 Corinthians 10:31, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
If our lives are aligned with Scripture, then it really doesn’t matter what others say.
4. Do what you can do to live at peace.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).
We’re called to do everything in our power to live at peace. Do what you can to preserve the peace balance including letting the offense go.
5. Don’t ditch the friendship . . . yet.
Give your friend the benefit of the doubt in this situation (and in every situation). Maybe they’re struggling in a way you can’t see or stressed about something you don’t know about. If possible, don’t let what they’re saying cause you to completely shut them off.
I continued going to coffee with my friend who’d been giving me trouble. Was it easy? Nope. But today, we’re still friends. Not best friends, but we can talk about what the Lord is doing in our lives and where He’s leading us. My heart and conscience are open and clear, knowing I did what I could to live at peace and did not allow bitterness to take root in my heart.
I’m glad I didn’t give up on our friendship, and I think you’ll be glad you stuck it out with your friend who’s giving you a hard time right now.
I hear you asking, “Is there ever a reason to cut someone’s friendship off entirely?” Great question! We’ll talk about that in Wednesday’s post. Don’t miss it! For now, I want to hear from you. Have you stuck it out after something hard happened with a friend, and your friendship grew or was restored? Sound off in the comments!